Naming a Letterpress Business

I am in the process of naming my soon-to-be business. I have come up with some ideas, but nothing really jumps out at me. I am a seriously indecisive person, so I’d rather decide now on a name even though this business won’t be a reality for quite some time.

I am curious to how others came to name their businesses. I need some inspiration to get the ball rolling.

Right now I have thought most about Arden Road Press, as it was the street I grew up on and where my parents still live today.

Any thoughts/suggestions/ and especially stories as to how you came up with your name would be appreciated! Thanks all :)

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Hello mboyer,

How about simply Arden Press? I love the Shakespearean allusions, plus I’m sure you’ll be an ardent letterpress practitioner. :-)

My “business” names were taken from my locale, too (“business” in quotes since I’m mostly a hobbyist). Lunada Bay Letterpress is named after my neighborhood, which surrounds what’s actually more of a cove known as Lunada Bay. My literary imprint (how fancy!) is called Pelican’s Way Press because my house is directly on a pelican flight path, and also as a reference to one of my favorite books, Swann’s Way.


My shop name came from other aspects that we do at the shop for we also do custom wood working, low volume high quality motorbikes, restoration, and sewing.

Ink & Hammer

Names no matter what they are take a long hard road to come about, it’s an important thing so its not going to be easy. I agree with Barbara, I like the sound of Arden Press

Barbara - I like Arden Press :) Love the name of your “business” ;)

InkandHammer - How cool! I love that your shop provides such a variety of services!

Thanks to both of you for your input.

There is also the idea of Panhandle Press or Pendleton Press. Panhandle because I live in the Eastern Panhandle of WV and Pendleton because the house I grew up in is called the Pendleton House.

Keep the ideas coming :)

Pillowface Press got it’s name from a mannequin face sewn to a pillow, that was laying in the corner…don’t ask :)

An interesting problem! I just went through this myself. The first thing I realized is that all the “good” names have been taken (“Applewood Press”, “Green Mountain Press”, “Birches Press”, etc.). I figured that if I picked something sem-obscure, I would be OK. (I picked “The Dog and Cat Press.”)

When you’re thinking about a possible name, first search on the Press Names section of Briar Press. Then, for completeness, you can also search on google. I found references to both “Arden Press” and “Panhandle Press” from google. I guess that depending on how serious you intend to become, you might want to avoid colliding with an existing entity. Can you think of a way to personalize your name even more? “Ink and Hammer” is great.


There was an Arden Press in Leamington, England that was acquired by Alfred Newdigate in 1888. His son Bernard Newdigate joined the firm in 1890. They largely printed books for other firms, Burns & Oates, Chatto and Windus, and the first 11 books of the Florence Press. They were purchased by Messrs. W. H. Smith & Son in 1908; one of the partners of the firm was Mr. St. John Hornby, the founder of the Ashendene Press. The name was still being used in the late 1920s. There is also an Arden Press that currently publishes books in Indian Hills, Colorado. It sounds like Arden Road Press would keep you from any copyright infringement, as well as keeping the sentimentality that is often part and parcel to a good press name.


We had a conversation on this topic pert near three years ago:

I ended up naming my press the Quizzical Press because z’s are cool and capital Q’s are cool. Also, the word Quizzical has a lovely visual balance. Also, my attitude toward life is quite often quizzical.

Thank you mboyer and jdh. It took us a while to narrow it down, we are pretty picky and perfectionist coming from a machining and fabricating background its just part of the game lol. We had a list of almost 50 names before we got it down! Take your time and just research and think of something different that stands out

I did lots of google searches and godaddy domain name searches when I was working on my press name. It seemed like nearly every idea I had was already taken, until I finally came up with Pheasant Press. I’m glad I was persistent and finally found a name I loved and that wasn’t already taken! I would go ahead and get the domain name as soon as you can. You can just put up a temporary landing page until you are ready to launch your business.

ps- don’t google “duck press” ewwww, I learned the hard way

Coming up with a name can be so fun and frustrating at the same time. Something with a story behind it, some local or personal connection, makes for a good conversation starter and hopefully sticks in someone’s mind a little better afterward.

We didn’t go that route though, going for a more abstract marriage of proper names and adjectives. The idea of using “hip” phrases that aren’t as in vogue anymore appealed to us, reflecting the age and incredible features of the letterpress process and equipment; touching on words such as panache, pizzazz, moxie…and slowly made our way to bells and whistles. Dropped the plural “s” for both words and added an “e” to bell to turn it into a name. We thought of changing whistle to wissell but Belle & Wissell Co already existed as exhibit designers. So whistle stayed and we were left with Belle & Whistle Press. There is occasionally some confusion when people assume that Alex’s name must be Belle, which I guess would make me Whistle—which I kind of like. Obviously not a very clear history of name distillation, so a little hard to convey in a crowd of people yammering all around, but we like it all the same. When I get time to do some work on a broader style blog the theme will continue with the name “Moxy’s Panache”.

Quion Brothers?

Sometimes names come to you even when you don’t want them. When I ran Hatch Show Print I kept a file of strange get-rich-quick printing schemes that people would occasionally send us. The schemes were forgettable, but the morphing of the Hatch name was not. We got mail addressed to Hatch Slow Print, Hat Shaw Print, Hank Snow Print, and the best of all - Hotel Show Paint.

“At Dumbiedykes” is a place imprint I began to use occassionaly a number of years ago.
It was a discovery, a reward for reading Sir Walter Scott. It means “silent walls”. The wonderful solitude of working at the press appeals.
There is a book from the first half of the twentieth named “The Road to Dumbiedykes”. I call the path through our woods to my shop that. (I understand that there is a working class section of Edinburgh also called “Dumbiedykes”.)
My Dumbiedykes is a place of free spirited enchantment for me, among walls of reading books, and type and ink, and the making of books and being transported from this native place to a universal world.
In 1993 our town was visited by William Faulkner’s nephew, Jimmy, who signed a sheet of mouldmade Arches and then playfully subscribed “At Dumbiedykes”.
Thus the name has, over time, and from childhood, grown in my mind and heart and has manifested its own pleasant associations that are very personal for me.
In thinking about your interesting question it all seems similar to the act of naming a new born child~not a light task. You want to do it right for you know that you must learn to live with it and learn to love it in all the anticipated pleasantness and actual unfolding experiences with the press. So the name, whether you will be overtly commercial with the press, or hold it with intense privacy, must be a name that will become happily personal to you, above all.
I vote for Arden Road Press. It has actual associations for you.
Thanks much for the chance to spout off. Great luck!

Ahhh. We love our press name & our logo.

We were looking for an identity that was edgy & fun to print. We do a fair amount of handrolling directly on the type, which has a painterly quality and ‘Graffiti’ offered a nice connection, along with Lead, as in the type metal used in letterpress. The issue was how to use the name and rise above the vandalism connotation. We stumbled across a 1885 British bank note with Spencerian script in our favorite store in London (Coin Craft) and the type treatment just clicked with us. The note offered the “raf,” but we needed to create the rest of the characters. The G, which floats between the two type styles, helped the name flow from the Gill Sans Extra Bold into the Spencerian flourishes. And the bonus was Graffiti gave us the ffi ligature for a bit of typographic fun both in the logo and when we set it in metal type. We use different color combinations for the logo each time we reprint our business cards (which is often) is just icing on the cake.

In our earliest of days we called ourselves “Wallflowers Press” but on the internet if you did a search for that you would get PRESS releases by a band called “The WALLFLOWERS.” So, be careful to look at all of the options, like calling your business “Arden Letterpress” instead of just “Arden Press.”

So, depending on how serious you are about the success of your business you need to think a bit beyond just a name you like. Personally, I think it is nice if you can tell a story. I love bringing out the bank note when we are talking with students.

image: LG-logo-briar-press.gif


image: banknote.jpg


Starting off I had the shop in the basement and I thought about people coming in through the back door. Then my wife didn’t like the fumes and I keep acquiring stuff, so I decided to convert my detached garage. Thought garage press would be cool but taken.

Working on things, I kept seeing the need to do things, to create, to be around antiques, to make money, to actually make something etc. thus “The Necessity Press” was born! Still working on the shop and getting things moving forward, the necessity to get this going grows more and more!!

Naming is fun, tiresome, frustrating but then it hits you and its there! Love these stories and the names!!

There is a real difference in conventions between naming printing businesses and private presses. The directory now run by BriarPress was started by private press enthusiasts who believed that there should never be two presses with the same name, so they did research and established the first users of various names. Names were not necessarily registered by the printer.
Commercial printing, which would include any letterpress business, has no such philosophy. Business names (DBAs) are registered and maintained on a county basis. I now know four presses who used my press name before i did, and three others after, one in my own state. Yet each works in a specific time and place and kind of work, so bibliographers should have no problem differentiating.

One should take care not use a currently existing business name as it might end up in a lawsuit. As for older press names it is simply a matter of conscience, and whether the name is in the press name registry, for if it is then you will not be allowed to register using an identical name. My press is actually Devil’s Tail Press, but the apostrophe causes problems with the program that BP uses so it is left off.

A ‘devil’s tail’ is an early slang name that American printers gave to the crooked impression lever of a hand press, a term which I firat encountered in a 19th century dictionary of printing terms. It was first documented in print in a Boston newspaper in 1765. Since I mainly print on hand-presses it seemed a rather appropriate name, stirring up images of black letter types and printer’s devils scurrying about. While I was mulling over the name, I encountered an article in Bookways which quoted a bit of correspondence between private press bibliographer Will Ransom and Elizabeth Yeats, proprietress of the famous Dun Emer and later Cuala Press in Ireland. He inquired as to why she had not undertaken to write a history of the press, to which she replied, “I could never write the history of Cuala - it is just the history of a financial struggle - what we call in Ireland Pulling the Devil by the Tail all the time - or existing on the breadth of a half penny”. Well - that clinched the deal, as a private press is really just a big bottomless pit to throw money into. So I took the name Devil’s Tail Press for my regular printing, and use the name Half Penny Press for my miniature books printed on my small Albion (which also seems appropriate as to the approximate amount of renumeration I receive for projects completed).


Re: Hobby Press Names:
1. Years ago I used “ESPECO PRESS” = Edwina and Stan Pekala Co. initials: ESPCo. Too commercial looking.
2. Wow! How about “REMEMBER WHEN PRINTING WAS?” Took up all of 18 picas across a business card set in some long-forgotten Boston Type Foundry face! I’d soon forgotten that!
3. Then came “MAGNUM OPUS” = A life’s accomplishment. That didn’t last too long! Too many people expected a musician, but I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket!
4. And finally (?): “DRUCKARNIA” (note: ck), a mix between the Polish word for German printing office, and “Drukarnia” (note: no c) Polish word for Polish printing office. Main reasons for this choice:
a. My ethnicity.
b. My respect and admiration of Guttenberg and Germany for their commonly accepted invention of movable type.
c. I especially like the German ligature ‘ck” in Rudolf Koch’s “Eve” typeface cut in 1922, for the Klingspor Type Foundry.

As Paul Harvey would say: “And now you know the rest of the story.”

My business name comes from the printing of fine books. Many years ago as a student at RIT in a composition class the pages or sections of a properly designed and printed book were discussed. Title page, bastard title page etc., and the final printed page is know as the Colophon page were specifics to the book or publication could be transcribed. It is were the printer made his mark. So a printer’s mark like Double Days dolphin and achor. In greek it also means summit or pinnacle.

Thank you all so much for your input! It has been very helpful!